Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Everyday Geek Girl Tries An "Everyday" Corset

About a year ago I accidentally discovered that a corset can drastically reduce menstrual cramps. (I even blogged about it - remember?) I was cosplaying at the time, and spent a blissful 8 hours or so pain free - until the moment I removed the corset, when I almost immediately doubled over in agony.

After that experience (and a lot of research) I bought one of those stretchy Spanx-like "body slimmers" to wear during crampy days. It definitely helped, but it just wasn't tight enough. I found myself folding it over into a smaller and smaller band, trying to get that extra snug fit right around my lower abdomen. It never stayed put, though, so I was constantly tugging at it and re-adjusting. Not good.

My cosplay corset was an overbust style, and not really practical for wearing around the house. (But by all means, enjoy the mental image of me in my Lady Vadore corset with sweat pants. :D)

So I set out to find an affordable "everyday" corset.

Which was really, REALLY hard. Seriously. They're all satin & strappy this or bondage that. Nothing practical or meant to be used as actual, you know, underwear.

Eventually I stumbled across Lucy's Corsetry, a fantastic resource for all things corset-y.



Lucy has about a bajillion video reviews of all the major corset brands, and over at her website she has helpful lists of corset sellers broken down by price range, style, dimensions, etc. It's a little overwhelming for newbies like me, but after several hours of research and meandering, I decided to buy this simple cotton underbust from Orchard Corset:




Lucy also has discount codes for some websites, so with her 15% off this corset costs a little over $60. (A great price for a decent quality corset.) The cotton breathes, and the underbust style lets you wear your own bra, which is a bonus - 'cuz we all know how important wearing the right size bra is now, right?

[Note: This particular corset is made for those of us with less curve. If you've been blessed with more of an hourglass shape, then try this style.]

I'm obviously pretty open-minded about corseting, but before I go on I'd be remiss if I didn't mention there are definitely WRONG ways to corset, so please do your research. For example, my chiropractor was dead set against my wearing one, because he believes it could weaken my back muscles. Since I only wear it for relatively short periods of time, though, I don't think that's a major concern. I also have no intention of getting into the extreme body modification areas of corsetry, since I'm pretty grossed out by the disturbingly tiny waists of the 24-hour tight-lacing crowd.

via 
[shudder]


Ok, safety caveats aside, lemme tell you about my past few months with a real, honest-to-goodness, "everyday" corset - that I don't wear everyday.

It's awesome.

Here's why:

Comfort for Cramps:

I had some really severe menstrual cramping this month, but I only needed a single dose of Tylenol the whole week, and no hot packs at all! I just tighten this sucker up and the stabbing agony subsides to an almost comfortable dull ache. I tug the corset down so it sits a little lower than usual for cramps, too, which feels much better - and more importantly, it doesn't budge!

Improved Posture:

In addition to the crampy days, sometimes I wear the corset while I'm working. This is because, despite my having a perfect ergonomic setup at my desk, I still manage to slump, twist, and cross my legs most of they day. I catch myself making a perfect C with my spine more often than not, hunched over the keyboard and jutting my head forward like a turtle.

The corset stops all that.

The inflexible steel busk in front prevents me from hunching forward, and makes it just uncomfortable enough that I never cross my legs, forcing me to keep my feet on my little footstool instead. Being more aware of my posture also helps me remember to keep my shoulders and head back a bit more, too, so it's a win all 'round.

The corset won't let me slump on the couch as much, either, although I can still sit comfortably, even with my legs tucked up beside me. (Like I said, I'm not a tight-lacer.)

I understand now why antique furniture is so uncomfortable, though; you definitely need a smaller seat and a harder back rest when wearing a corset. Fortunately we just got new couches that are pretty firm and not too deep, though, so I can just tuck a pillow behind my back and do just fine.

Confidence:

It's not false modesty when I say I have almost no waist to speak of. My torso just doesn't go "in" - if anything, it curves out in the middle, like a ball. I've made peace with my shape, but clothes shopping has long been more of a defensive maneuver than anything remotely resembling "fun." Every t-shirt needs an over shirt, every dress needs a cardigan, and every skirt needs a long tunic top & extra wide belt - all designed to hide, hide, hide.

But - BUT! - last month I bought a cute orange dress, and thanks to this corset, I actually like the way I look in it:

#NoMakeupSelfie :D

With the corset I'm freed from over shirts and cardigans - a godsend when it's 95 degrees out, believe me - and discovering that I CAN have a waist even inspired me to try wearing shorts again for the first time in more years than I can remember:

 Look at me! I'M WEARING SHORTS!!
(Ok, so I never actually left the house in them, but still. Progress.)

Then I went completely hog-wild and wore leggings as pants. I know, I know - I'm ashamed of myself, too. I only wore them around the house, though, and boy HOWDY did John like it. o.0

 Think corsets = discomfort? Think again. I'm about ready for a slumber party in this outfit.
(Now everyone say "Hi, Lily!")

Have I mentioned that significant others are likely to appreciate your corseted shape, too? 'Cuz they are. And while I don't think that's a good reason to lace up, it's not a bad side benefit.


Now let's talk nitty-gritty details, since I'm sure a lot of you have the same questions I did. You'll find the basic how-tos at any corset site, of course, but here's what I've learned from personal experience:
 
Is it comfortable?

Once you're used to the pressure, and assuming you're wearing it properly, then yes, very! There's a stabilizing, elegant feel to it, too, which makes you carry yourself better - and that in turn can also make you feel better.

You're supposed to wear your corset over something, so it never touches your skin. This helps keep it clean (you can't machine wash a corset, and even dry-cleaning is tricky), and also more comfortable. I like to wear mine over simple cotton dresses, or over a t-shirt worn with a thin skirt. (Jeans are too bulky, unless you want to button them over the corset.)

I've never had a problem with the corset being too hot, but to be fair, I haven't worn it outside for more than a few minutes, and I tend to be chilly in the A/C.

How restrictive is it?

I can move a lot more than I expected, even laced as tight as I can comfortably make it. I can pick things off the floor without a twinge, play with the cats, eat, and walk comfortably on my treadmill desk.

The only real issue with sitting (provided I have a good back rest) is that my tracts of land really rise to the occasion. Heh. It's not uncomfortable; just a little weird to have the girls so much closer to my chin.

Note that I never lace so tightly that I can't breath from my diaphragm, though. There are guidelines for "chest breathing" out there, but the thought of not being able to take a deep breath when I want is panic-inducing, and would of course be a lot less comfortable.

Does it really help with anxiety?

I've read that some people do find corsets help their anxiety, because the pressure is like a supportive hug. I have not found this to be the case, though. In fact, I had to remove my corset several times within the first hour because I felt the exact opposite; like I was somehow trapped, and I kept focusing too much on how deeply I could breathe, no matter how much I loosened the laces.

I've learned to trust my instincts on which days to lace up, and over the months I've found myself quite eager to put on the corset some mornings, while others I know it's best to leave it off. This past week has been the best yet, probably because I've found that the tighter I make the corset, the better I feel (in regards to the cramps), so I haven't had any issues at all with anxiety. If anything, I almost forget I'm wearing it!

Can you put it on yourself?

Yep!  If you want to tight-lace to the extreme then I could see possibly needing help, but then again, I've managed to make mine tight enough that I couldn't quite breathe from my diaphragm, and had to loosen it up again. A quality corset has strong grippy laces & smooth grommets in the back that make self-tightening a breeze. (Check any corset site for how to properly put on a corset, and also how to "season it," - aka, break it in for the first few wearings.)

How long and how often do you wear it?

I've been averaging about 2 or 3 days a week, wearing the corset anywhere from 5 to 10 hours at a time. I never wear the corset to bed.

How do people react when they see you?

I don't leave the house much (please, try not to look so shocked), so I've only worn the corset out once or twice so far, and I honestly don't think anyone even noticed. Since mine is plain black, it almost looks like a vest or wide cincher belt - quite subtle. If you're worried about people staring you can wear the corset under your clothes, of course, but like a good geek shirt, I'm sure a corset can be a fun conversation starter with all the cool people out there. ;)


Since this corset has been such a success for me, I'm on the lookout for more everyday cotton or twill styles. I'd love to find a neutral brown shade, but so far, no luck. I'm open to spending more for a custom order, but there are just so many sellers to choose from! So if any of you more experienced corseters have advice, please share in the comments!


Ok, guys, what'd I miss? Ask your questions in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer them!

108 comments:

  1. So happy it's working out for you!

    I was one of the corsetvangelists on the previous thread about it, and probably my number 1 reason for that is the effect that you describe on posture. I am always surprised by people claiming that a corset might weaken the muscles, because I find that having pressure on them, giving them something to push back against, makes them much stronger. I'd have to be wearing the corset the whole time to become reliant on it and that is something I will never voluntarily do. They've improved my core strength considerably, with all the resulting benefits you'd expect.

    My only issues with them are:

    1. The cleaning. I wear them sparingly and over a layer of clothes rather than next to the skin, because I am very much do-it-yourself about washing clothes!

    2. Wearing them outside my clothes gives me the urge to start planning outfits around them, so I spend more money on things that are "going to look so gorgeous with that khaki corset" or "would be great for dressing my steampunk corset down for wearing it during the day". My poor bank balance.

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  2. WOW, you have AWESOME legs!!!!!!! I'm super jealous!!! You should definitely wear shorts more often!!

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    1. I was going to say the same thing!

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    2. I was going to say that too. I definitely think you should show those gams off more often :)

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    3. "awesome" legs?

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    4. I am jelly too! I have been blessed with that nipped in waist you wish for, but my chest in non-existant and my calves are as round as my hips (bulby). I dream of beautiful boot-loving legs like yours and girls that can get anywhere near my chin. Loving your body doesn't look hard to me - though I have been told the same, you look great in shorts and leggings and I can see why John was so appreciative. You really are one hot chiquita! You aren't a model, but then again neither are they (cough, cough, photoshop) and personally I think you are a million times cuter and sexier than any model I have seen because you look honest, real and human. I believe there is a term for people attracted to maniquins...

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  3. I've never tried any of these, but this UK site has some awesome looking Steampunk corsets http://www.corsets-uk.com/steampunk-clothing/steampunk-corsets.html

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    1. I think this is the US version of the same company: http://www.corset-story.com/ - and I have bought from them before, and highly recommend it! :)

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    2. A word of warning: Corset Story, all versions of the site, sell corsets of a quality only meant for occasional wear. They're good for costumes or a night out, but if you wear them too frequently they'll fall apart much sooner than the ones from Orchard Corsets.
      They also only sell off-the-rack corsets: mass produced ones, which doesn't have to be a problem, but most of the ones on Corset Story are rather barrel shaped. Meaning they're okay if you have almost no waist curve and your hips are the same circumference as your ribcase, but people with other measurements are going to feel some cinching when lacing things a little tighter.

      All of that being said, I own one of their steampunk corsets, and it's very pretty and serves me well enough :)

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    3. "Awesome" looking, but poor quality. Corsets UK and it's copies (confirmed or suspected to use the same factories) use subpar materials and the cut of the paneling is really bad. It makes you look like you shoved yourself in a tube no matter how you lace it, and it's really uncomfortable on most bodies because they make the ribcage and hip circumference almost the same size, which a good percentage of female bodies do not have. Cheap as they are, they can only last a few weeks of wearing before falling apart, which is a painful way to lose £25++

      The following all use similar materials and construction, and should be avoided:

      Corsets UK
      Corset Queen
      Corset Deal
      Corsets 365
      Corsets AU
      Punk69 (now CorsetsWholesale)
      Korsetts-DE
      Canal.boat (on ebay)

      It's better to save a little more and get something from a better off the rack brand, like, say, Timeless Trends (who offer lifetime guarantee). Lucy herself sells wholesale TT corsets, here: http://lucycorsetry.com/for-sale/new-otr-corsets/

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    4. I've actually had good luck with the Corset Story corsets I've bought, but I tend to buy the ones sold for tight lacing. Not because I actually tight lace, but because they are fully lined and have twice as much spiral steel boning.

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  4. I love corsets, I've never really found them to be uncomfortable unless I over tighten them. I've actually made a few underbust corsets for myself, and although they aren't exactly an easy project for new sewers I'd say it was more doable than it looked at first and you get an amazing fit. Drafting the pattern was the hardest part, but there were a bunch of tutorials online when I searched (I liked this one particularly- http://katafalk.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/underbust-pattern-tutorial/). Mine are mostly costume related, but I've got some fabric for a pretty one for casual wear lined up!

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  5. I've been contemplating a corset since your prior post (I was getting corset story ads all over the place for months after that!), and now feeling inspired to go really make make the commitment. I agree with Jan that it seems like wearing it for limited time would actually HELP my core, which is currently a slumpy mess. I too am often hunched at my desk. Thanks for the inspiration & reference info!

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  6. You look so great in it! I kind of want one now!

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  7. Yeah for cramp relief!!!! Though I do have to side with your chiro just a little bit (only a little I promise). Wearing corsets, or back braces for long periods of time can really lower your core strength cause the corset is doing all the work to hold you upright. Which is nice for the muscles to have a break sometimes but if abused it can really do some harm. It sounds like you're being super responsible about it but just in case some readers jump into the "if 2 days are good, 7 would be better". Oh yeah and I'm an RMT (Massage Therapist) who loves wearing corsets ;)

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  8. I LOVE this post. I decided after this pregnancy I'd try a corset. I've worn them for costumes, but I'm excited to try the one you've been using. (Definitely need my own bra!) This makes me so excited!

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  9. This couldn't have come at a better time!!! I have been flirting with the idea of getting a corset for a few months now and I have just decided that I would take the leap and seriously start looking around. It's so refreshing to read this from an "everyday" view and helps set my mind at ease...especially about the breathing issue since it was one of my biggest fears. I have the same sort of body shape as you and if I can look half as good as you look it's all totally worth it!! :D

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  10. 1 - great gams, lady! You have amazing legs.

    2 - You've answered most of the questions (and fears) I've had about retrying a corset. Mostly, can I get myself into it... I trust you... Just need to find a video, because I can't imagine it... But the biggest issue I had last time I wore one was bending enough at the waist to handle the feminine business I had to handle during the times I would need the extra hug for cramps. (how's that for delicate?) Was I laced too tight? Didn't fit properly? It was fear inducing enough that I haven't tried since.

    I have a "training" corset from a friend that is under-bust... but I have to have hubby lace me in, a little at a time... I may have to try again.

    Thank you!

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    1. Lucy's corsetry has a video about using the bathroom while in a corset. It might be helpful. She has an amazing array of videos that answer virtually any question.

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  11. OMG haha I totally fold down my spanx too! But then I got a "real" corset, and it helps my cramps SO MUCH it's crazy. It's not a real real one like yours (BTW thanks for the follow up post, I'll totally be checking these out) it's kinda rubbery but it works. Since it's rubbery and I can hand wash it without ruining it, I wear it while I work out- it makes me sweat more, and it makes ab work not so hard on my back.

    I'm so grateful that you posted about this- I have to take HCL to up my stomach acid so I can't take advil and tylenol does nothing for me and my cramps are so bad that I'd literally die if I didn't have this option! Recently they have gotten worse (paleo diet does that to some women) so now I also take magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin D the whole 7 days and a few days before that helps a lot too.

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    1. Yes, I've found that magnesium really helps! Especially if I take it at the very first twinge of cramps; the earlier I take it, the less severe they seem to be.

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    2. My doctor has me taking magnesium everyday in order to build up in my system. It has really helped diminish my monthly migraine.

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  12. This was super informative! Though I had to stop eating my sandwich for a while after I saw the Vogue picture.
    And you are just the most adorable thing!

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  13. I don't wear mine for cramps, but I do at conventions. It started as my "slow down and... oh hey I'm selling BOARD GAMES!" but I found that after standing for eight hours in the dealer's room, my back hurt far less on the days that I wore a corset. So now they're implemented in all of my convention outfits.

    I have trouble bending over to get things because of where they hit me (and the fact that I have bad knees and have trouble crouching) but I can almost always get a lovely lady or gentleman to pick something up instead for me, so it works out. ;-)

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  14. 1. You have amazing legs for shorts. Honest engine. I have leg-envy.

    2. Don't hate on leggings-as-pants wearers! I love leggings. I have no butt. They look like pants. Note: leggings are NOT the same as footless tights.

    3. I've only corseted for reenactments (Victorian corsets are the worst. 18th century stays are so very comfy. I made them both which meant that they will fit my uber short torso) and the most shocking part of all of it was that my boobs were *right* there. With pretty severe back problems, I haven't corseted in forever (I have to wear bands about my SI region, i.e. a butt-girdle), but they helped my posture a lot when I did wear them more.

    4. A note on breathing and comfort: kudos for not tightening too much! If you are only breathing with your upper chest and not your diaphragm, it is bad news long term. Fixing posture helps SO SO SO much with increasing lung capacity. Proper posture = more space for lungs to work = better breathing.

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    1. Amen on leggings and pants (and not footless tights)! I never felt comfortable doing it until I was pregnant. Part of it is that maternity pants are actually the devil, but most of it was that I decided to accept my body, wear what's comfortable, and nuts to what anybody else thinks of my appearance. I mean, I wear them with longer shirts and tunics, but I decided it's nobody's business but mine if I want to wear stretchy pants.

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  15. In my previous life I was a professional costumer and I can honestly say that a) you CAN make machine washable ones mine has no metal bones and I toss it right in there and b) They're pretty damn easy to make so I say get John-the-master-Sewer to make you one. This is a GREAT tutorial on drafting a custom pattern. I used to use the techniques in it constantly http://yourwardrobeunlockd.com/articles/free/beginner/72-corset-drafting2

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  16. I got one for one for Civil War reenactments I do on occasion from this Esty seller, Treadle Treasures. They are over bust, but her prices are great and it is really well made to your measurements. I got the working corset, so it was designed to be worn for every day, not formal occasions. I should try wearing it more often, my posture is terrible at work. https://www.etsy.com/shop/TreadleTreasures?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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  17. I never thought about wearing a corset to work before, but have always noticed when I am wearing themat cons that I slouch less. I wonder if it would ultimately help my neck by forcing me not to lean over "turtle" style as you mentioned. I do feel like standard black and a basic cotton would be the way to go. Thanks for the info and the link! I can also second Robin's comment above that making corsets is easier than you would think, and I have used the same Your Wardrobe Unlocked site to draft a pattern for mine.

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  18. Hi! I'm an experienced full time corsetier and a long time lurker of your blog. Lucy is a good friend of mine and did a review of one of my older pieces, she's an invaluable resource and I'm glad you're using her videos to educate yourself. It's refreshing to see a positive article amidst all of the sensationalist tabloid journalism about one of my clients. Please, do NOT purchase corsetstory or corsetsuk like some of the people in the comments are recommending, they are notorius for being shapeless, ill-fitting, low quality, and painful, which a corset should not be! If you are impressed by an OK mild shaping corset like orchard, I would love to see what a good quality custom piece would do for you, it's a whole different experience! Please, if you are still in the market for a custom, check out my brand at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lovely-Rats-Quality-Custom-Clothing/199875083619 , even if I'm out of your price range, I'm very involved in the corsetry community and can probably reccomend an appropriate company for you. Good luck!

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  19. I've found that wearing a corset while vending at shows is a real life saver on my back. Usually standing for hours will cause all sorts of back issues for me, but when I wear a corset they just go away. Even when I take it off at night the back pain doesn't reappear. My posture is so much better too. I do have some problems picking things up when I drop them, but I'm hoping to save up for a custom corset that will be cut right for me so I can eliminate this problem. Thanks for the great post!

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  20. OK, I can't help it. I always have a book to recommend on a subject. I'm a librarian. Anyway, you might find this one interesting, about a woman who's a Victorian scholar and re-enactor who decided to wear a corset everyday: amzn.com/1626361754/

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    1. That's been on my to-read list for a while now - thanks for the reminder!

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  21. I have a diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) after two pregnancies, and one of the recommendations for fixing it is to wear an abdominal binder. I bet a corset would have the same function and look much more attractive. I may have to look into one!

    P.S. If I had legs like yours, I would wear shorts all the time! No wonder John's happy!

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  22. Without sounding creepy, your legs are fantastic! The shorts look amazing!

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  23. Ok, I had to comment before people got too freaked out by that Vogue photo-- it's totally a PhotoShop! If you check out the skinny waist area-- the drop shadow is both darker and not as wide as the drop shadow around the rest of the body.

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    1. Actually, forget it- I checked the source link and there's even more pics there that I can't call PS on.... I'm officially grossed out too now! -.-

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    2. Right?? There are more women like that, too, although the lady in the picture I think is the world record holder for smallest waist.

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    3. If I may be frank, I think it's rather rude that you would call these women's bodies gross or disturbing. It's their body, and while yeah, I'll admit it's kind of unusual, it is of course their business.
      - Io

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  24. I bought a corset in 06, not an everyday one, a nice one that is more of the satiny overbust kind. But over the years I have been known to throw it on to help with my back pain. I only wear it for 30 to 60 minutes, but after I take it off my back feels so much better.

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  25. Aw Jen, you look great! Even in leggings (:

    I wear a corset now and then for cosplay and I have noticed that it is impossible to sit in a car while laced up. Something to do with the shape of the seats, I guess - the back's not straight enough. And I have to say, I do feel quite secure in my corset. I feel protected, like wearing armor. But then (thankfully) I usually don't have anxiety issues. And yes, the "girls" are much closer that way. I kept getting asked whether they were real (:

    Seeing Lily over there, how is she? Better, I hope?

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  26. now i super want to buy a corset.
    i usually wear an undershirt under my tees, to prevent plumber's butt, so i could just wear it over that and under my regular shirt.

    *thinking*

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  27. When I worked at a grocery store we had to wear back braces for heavy lifting but I found out that when I had cramps I could pull it tight and it helped sooo much. Same principal I guess just not as high on my short torso. Thank goodness for menopause.

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  28. Wow! you look great in those pictures!

    But I am really uncomfortable with the word "gross" used to describe human bodies....I mean, the one picture you took was the woman with the smallest waist in the world so she is truly the most extreme example, but I know people who waist-train, and would be hurt to hear themselves described as gross and disgusting.

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  29. Jen, you know there are such things as corset covers, right? You can buy or make them and they protect your corset, allow you to wear it next to your skin and you can even use pretty fabrics and trim!

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    1. I did not, no! I'll have to check 'em out!

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    2. I was going to suggest a cover also, John is a good sewer, maybe he could make you one! then you could have a plain brown one like you want but you could also do fun fabrics!

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  30. I have that SAME corset! I've been trying to get into more frequent corset-wearing myself, partly because I like the aesthetic and partly because I feel it would improve my posture. I'm really glad your research led you to Orchard Corset and Lucy's Corsetry - those are really good resources. :D

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  31. Your corset looks lovely! I'm looking at buying one myself at some point.
    Steam Ingenious has a lot of corset information on her website if you're looking for more info and places to buy. Especially:
    http://www.steamingenious.com/2013/10/where-to-buy-corset-part-1-independent.html
    http://www.steamingenious.com/2013/10/where-you-should-buy-corset-part-2.html

    Also thecorsetauthority on tumblr has a lot of good information, although they are focused on waist training and tightlacing.

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  32. Could you wear a long cami underneath if you didnt want to wear it over everyday clothes? So the layers would be cami, corset, shirt.

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    1. That would definitely work! When I costume, I wear a cami, corset and top, in that order. Make sure your cami is cotton or silk - something that will let your skin breathe!

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    2. Thank you, Beth. I saw another comment below about wearing a cami underneath. Sounds like a plan to me!

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  33. Heehee, glad I'm not alone on the leg thoughts. First thing that came to mind? "Nice gams!" :D. Rock shorts more often love, you look great! Thanks for the very informative post. You have made me consider trying to combat my horrible cramps with a corset since you first spoke about it. I'm sure my husband would appreciate a less crabby/crying/wearingsweatpantsallweek wife during that time.

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  34. I have an 8 month old whom I lift and carry and set down all day. I'm also on the floor a lot playing blocks and such. Would wearing a corset be reasonable for all the moving I do? If it helps with back pain, I'm up for it!

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    1. If you check down below you'll see another mom of young kids who wears corsets while lifting & playing with them, so yes, I'd say it's possible! :) Plus there are varying strengths of corsets - some flex more and allow more movement - and on top of THAT you can always experiment with the lacing to find the perfect "sweet spot" of tightness. If that makes sense. ;)

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    2. Thanks very much, Jen! ((Zomg, she replied to my comment!))

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  35. May I just say you look fabulous in that, Jen? Fabulous! I mean, you look fabulous every day, I'm sure Jon would say, but you look good in those pictures! It's totally the confidence, too!

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  36. I'm nnot going to lie, the reason I first started wearing corsets was to go dancing at Goth clubs, but I soon became a big fan for all the back pain relief and posture help that comes with all it's aesthetic benefits.

    I girl at my job messed up her back and I recomended one to her and now she wears it every day. We wear 9=10 hour shifts sometimes and she is able to last all day with the corsette

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  37. I have always loved these corsets and the ladies are always very nice:
    http://www.scarlettscorset.com/

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  38. Glad to hear it's working so well for you, and thanks for doing the research and PSA for us. If you and John get into corset making, check out this supplier: https://farthingalescorsetmakingsupplies.com/

    She's in Canada, so your dollar will likely go further.

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  39. I got a slimmer thing when I first read your post and I've always been more likely to wear tights under my skirt that time of the month (the only time I enjoy shaper tights) The slimmer thing is great because I feel ok wearing it to bed although it does ride up a bit and I wish it were tighter.

    Does the pain come back when you take the corset off at night or does the several hours you are able to use it curbed the rest of the pain too? I feel like my worst cramps come at night and I don't think I could sleep in a corset either.

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    1. Generally my worst cramps are at night, too - I could swear just the act of lying down kick-starts them somehow! - but wearing the corset all day does seem to prevent it from hurting at night. I did worry taking the corset off would make them start up again, but so far it hasn't. [fingers crossed!] If it does in the future, then I'll just switch to the Spanx thing again, since like you said you can sleep in that comfortably.

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  40. I wore a corset daily for about 4 months after reading "victorian secrets" and wanting to explore the field myself. I loved wearing it but my osteopath advised me not to wear it daily anymore since my back muscles were severly reduced to a point that she was actually afraid that I would hurt my spine by even a small movement without the corset. So I am not wearing it daily anymore and should actually do exersices to build up those back muscles again (please note the "should" ;) ).
    I miss the corset dearly. I still wear it once or twice a week but it's not the same. One thing that stuck though is that I am reminded to keep a good posture even when I'm not wearing the corset. That is a nice change already.
    Oh, and the one thing I was hoping that the corset would help me with - weight loss - didn't happen. I did loose weight but because I started riding the bike more often once spring arrived.

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    1. I've wondered about doing some kind of core-strengthening exercises to offset that effect from corsets - think there's a corset-themed Pilates regiment out there? Ha! As it is, I've been trying to do more on my big exercise ball, but I don't think that does much for the back muscles. I'll have to research more options.

      I haven't noticed any appetite suppression either, but seeing myself look better in the mirror IS an encouragement to try to eat better, so I could see it helping indirectly that way.

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    2. Bought a beginner Pilates video (mat exercises with Ana Caban) once upon a time that teaches about the core and best exercises for strengthening it. Completed this 2-3 times per week at 5 reps each at first, increasing frequency and repetitions as necessary. Total, after about 18 mos, was 5-6x/wk with 16 reps per exercise. Improved my breathing, posture, balance, and helped me lose about 70 lbs. No doubt in my mind it worked my whole body, especially targeting the corset area. *LOVED* it. Feels more like a satisfying stretch than exercise. Hope it helps! Good luck on your quest.

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  41. I too, buy from Orchard Corsets and have about 10 of their corsets. Can't beat their customer service and quality + prices! My latest underbust leather was only $79! Oh and superfast shipping! They will walk you through on how to get the perfect size for you. They have long and shorter waist corsets, 3 levels of curve. I wear them over my clothing daily for a few hours at a time. Now, I wished I'd known about wearing them back when I had a period (hysterectomy @ age 34) and maybe I would have been in less pain. They do help my back issues and it feels like I've been to the chiropractor and the massage therapist all while wearing my corset. Great feeling! Orchard Corset also does a weekly corset giveaway on Twitter/facebook etc. and a real live lucky winner gets to pick their corset from their online store. Shipped for free. Can't beat them all around.

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  42. Simplicity pattern # 2890. Other pattern companies have patterns, listed under costumes.

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  43. I can pretty safely say that a vast quantity of gals have a body part that they dress to hide. I know you don't like your soft middle section. But, you also have FANTASTIC legs. I mean that!

    I hate my legs - huge thighs and very chunky knees. I though it was just some horrid curse. Then a few years ago I noticed my grandmother has the EXACT same legs... it was a revelation! She took one look at my legs and apologized - she hated hers too! Later that year I went to England and Jersey (the Isle, not the state), and lo and behold, there were my legs! Loads of girls with the same shape - big thighs and chunky knees! Now I know, my legs are my biological connection to the generations that lived on Jersey. I still hate how my legs look, but I don't hate what they are. Maybe there is a way for you to start to connect to the parts of your lineage through your body shape - it can be a point of comfort.

    Also, you have great legs! Rock that corset and show off your beautiful stems!

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  44. Long time reader, first time commenter. I do historical costuming, and have made corsets for Medieval, Elizabethan, Regency, and Victorian, as well as a few fantasy ones. All have a different shape, just as the gowns were very different. I also reccomend farthingales as a supplier, and wanted to share the corset generator site for those looking to make their own. This will help you make an Elizabethan corset, which provides marvelous support. http://www.elizabethancostume.net/custompat/ It's been a while since I've done it, but I remember it being one of the most valuable resources when I was starting out. I prefer steel boning - the flat white ones. (Spiral bones are bendy, and more used for Victorian corsets, which create the curvy hourglass). If you are making one, I strongly suggest you choose good materials, and be patient. Always sew your channels from top to bottom, or bottom to top, resist the urge to switch it up (it's easier to go up for one channel, and down the next, but that creates shifting, and therefore bubbles in the fabric which will make it look sloppy and uncomforatble to wear!) Tabs on the bottom of your corset chould be cut as part of the same fabric, not attached later. Extend the boning into the tabs, and they will help support the entire corset, and prevent it digging in so much! You will end up with some asset overflowing, but shifting them around as the corset is tightened can increase or decrease the effect as desired.

    Medieval corset - not technically historically proveable, but follws the natural body shape, just to hold in certain bits.
    Elizabethan corset - Makes a more straight, triangle silhouette. My most comfortable corset
    Regency - long, straight, tube for body, with a shelf for your assets. Empire waist gown, so empire style corset. looks a little odd with modern clothes.
    Victorian - curvy, and hourglass. More spiral bones which help forward and back curves as well.

    Have fun! Nice to see corsets becoming more part of fashion and function again! ~~Sharlene

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    1. Wow, that was super helpful, Sharlene! Thank you!

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  45. I bought the exact same corset a few months ago! I love it too. Although I've been lazy about wearing it lately. I wear mine to Disney a lot (I live in winter park, we should meet up!) and it's great. I even have two young kids and I have no problem lifting or holding my 3 year old. I haven't been brave enough to wear mine over clothes yet, and I have a hard time finding pants/shorts that are comfortable with it. Maybe if I got some cute retro dresses or something... Anyway, I'm glad you're promoting corsetry. I really like mine but feel like it's way too "out there" to talk about openly-I always feel like I need to hide it. Let me know if we can meet up at Disney sometime!

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    1. I really would like to try one, but how do you know what size to buy, especially when buying online? What do you where under yours? I wouldn't be brave enough to wear one over my clothes either, but some sort of "shimmy" or chemise seems needed. But that sounds like it would get really hot. I don't live in Florida, I live in the So.Cal desert, so heat is a real concern.

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    2. The Orchard Corset website has pretty detailed instructions for taking your measurements and choosing a size. I tried a size and it didn't fit right so I contacted their customer service and they were wonderful with helping me troubleshoot and choose a different size. I had to pay shipping for the returns, but otherwise it was really great and easy.
      I just wear a thin camisole under mine, it works great. And wearing it in the heat is fine. Mine is cotton and it doesn't really make me much hotter than I otherwise would be. I don't DESPISE the heat though, so I'm sure it would bother some people.

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    3. Hey Shelsy! John & I avoid the parks more in the summer, but we should totally meet up sometime! Are you on Twitter? I'm easiest to get a hold of there, or you can e-mail me and we'll set up an official date that way. :)

      And Betty, I just took my waist measurement & subtracted 4 or 5 inches, which worked out great. Some places make mesh corsets, which might not be as strong but definitely breathe more, so that could be an option for the heat. (I've been looking at a few myself over at True Corset, which are about $85.)

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  46. Is a properly fitted corset comfortable? Ask any opera singer. Yes, properly fitted a corset is comfortable.
    As for cleaning it, you can hand wash in cold water and line dry. You can use Fabreeze to freshen it up.
    Just make sure the inside of the corset is canvas for a long life.And always wear a camisole or t-shirt underneath the corset. Prevents it from getting icky and keeps you from getting prickly heat rash. Glad to know you have found a non-drug way to ease those nasty cramps! Thanks for sharing,Jen!!!!

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  47. "Hi Lilly!"
    Great post, Jen! I don't have the worry of cramps anymore (whoo hoo menopause!) but your other points are valid ones. Lots of good information -- thank you.

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  48. Since I am currently on day 2 of my period (my "Why God why I hate everyone sob sob" level of cramps, and I don't know how you ladies who have a WEEK of that handle it!) I am *thisclose* to an impulse buy...

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  49. Hey Jen!

    I read through your post relatively carefully (although not fine-toothing it because I'm at work) and I didn't see if you mentioned anywhere how you've been getting in and out of your corset. I've been thinking about one for a while for cramps and posture but I don't have anyone who can help me in and out of it. Is it easy to lace yourself in?

    Lots of love to your Lilly cat!

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    1. Hi Hilary! Ah, yes, I covered that near the bottom, in "can you put it on yourself?" The short answer is yes, quite easily. :)

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  50. I've read your bra post in the past, but I'm wondering about corset sizing. How do you know what size you need and how it's supposed to fit? I don't have cramps anymore (hysterectomy way back in '99) but I have a LOT of back pain and hip pain and wonder if it might help that. But of course I'm worried about sizing and fit. How do you know?

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    1. The off-the-rack styles just go by waist size, so take your waist measurement and subtract about 4 or 5 inches.

      The fit is another matter, since some styles have a more severe hourglass shape, while others are more like a big tube. The description should tell you, and some even give you the measurements for the bust & hip size, which helps.

      Fortunately the lacing means you've got some leeway with the fit, since you can tighten more at the bust or the hips to fit your shape. (I'm really A-lined shaped, so my corset is closed all the way at the top, and open a good four inches at the bottom.) Hope that helps!

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    2. I don't know how this modern ones are laced but you can also use two separate laces - do one from the middle to the bottom and the other from the middle to the top (or vice versa: top to mid, bottom to mid). You can lace them with different tightnesses this way.

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  51. I love using corsets in my cosplay. They make me feel extra confident just because they help my posture go from my natural Gollum hunch to a fierce Wonder Woman strut. If you do take to wearing a corset outdoors (especially here in hot as hell Florida) be careful to carry instant ice packs in your bag. One of those on the back of your neck does wonders if you overheat in your corset. :)

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  52. You mentioned it feeling like a "supportive hug", which totally made me think of "Temple Grandin" - she created this "hug machine" for when she felt anxious, and because her autism prevented her from touching people, the fake hug was perfect. Makes me wonder if someone with similar issues as Temple's would benefit from the corset idea?

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  53. Hmm, I almost wish I had cramps so I could wear a corset. I've been blessed, and don't have any cramps during my monthly. (Knock on wood.) I just gain 2 pounds, and feel like a whale.

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  54. I feel a bit left out on this post as a member of the male gender, but I still love your writing so much and it's always fun to have a peek at how the "other side" lives. :) I really laughed at "please, try not to look so shocked". I don't really go for crossdressing but hey, if Tim Curry can pull it off, I'm sure others can as well.
    Anyway, just to say that you have some male fans. Well, at least two, counting Jon. :)

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  55. That is so great. I've been wanting a real, honest to god corset for a while, but everything that comes in my size (46, from what I can see) was always major $$$ or custom made (even more $$$). So I looked it up on that website, and I ended up getting the same corset (actually, I got the longer one as I have a long torso as well) you got for only $78 with her coupon code. That is great. I can't wait to get it!

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  56. I have lots of corsets (although many of them are "corsets" with heavy emphasis on the quotation marks) and my favourite is just like yours! It has white stripes, and I bought it to match a steampunk skirt I owned. It's definitely my most comfortable corset, and I've worn it more than once around the house just to keep my posture in check. :)

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  57. Thank you for this post, Jen. I've long been tempted by corsets, but being "apple-shaped" (not apple bottomed!), I always wondered what the effect would be. Most corset sites go on about emphasizing your hourglass figure, but how can you emphasize a waist that doesn't really exist? But you look lovely! And I'm on board with everyone else - rock those great legs of yours!

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    1. For apple-shaped figures, often the goal is to get more of a straight, tubular shape, which conveniently is the shape that a lot of off-the-rack corsets come in. It's actually more difficult for those of us with a 15" inch hipspring to find anything that fits.

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  58. It's great to hear such positive feedback from a new corseter. I've been wearing corsets to help with my chronic back pain for about 5 years and making them for 4 years. I have a bunch of posts on my blog about corset myths and where NOT to buy corsets and thoughts on where you should buy them. I also, of course, make custom corsets. I was wearing my tightlacing underbust today sitting on the couch and it felt so good on, I paused to boggle at people who think corsets are painful. I also do educational panels on corsets at conventions, so I know how much misinformation is out there. Anyway, here's a link to all my corset posts.

    And specific series of posts: Corset Myths

    Corset Buying and Where NOT to Buy a Corset

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  59. As someone with expierence with corsets, make sure yours is made with steel boning (spiral steel if you can get it) and NOT plastic. The plastic will eventually mold to your shape and break or poke out from either the top or bottom and be a constant pain. Another problem with plastic boning is the fact that it is not as resilient as steel. I sometimes wear a steel one for 8 hours at a time, and I am comfortable, can sit for long periods of time and even touch my toes, which is nearly impossible with a plastic boned one.

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  60. I'm guessing the pressure is a big part of why they work to help stop cramps but I wonder if another part of it is fixing your alignment.
    I was recently reading this post http://www.katysays.com/aching-for-an-answer/ on Katy Says about exercises/adjustments to help stop cramps. (I'm not recommending buying the video, I've not bought it myself. Though I have managed to stop my pelvic floor cramping constantly by reading other stuff on this site) It's just at the bottom there she's talking about why most period cramps occur and it talks about your pelvis tilting wrong causing a lot of the problems and maybe wearing the corset helps stop that happening.

    I've always wanted a corset but have never managed to get one. I think partly because I'm always broke but also because I have Fibromyalgia tender points on the bottom of my ribcage and the front of my hips. Even light pressure can hurt so I'm not sure if it would be painful. I also have massive hips and go in dramatically at the waist so I don't know if I'd be able to find an off the rack one that fits.
    I have heavy, saggy breasts and can find very few bras that will support me properly and have never found one that gives me much in the way of lift. I have always wondered if a corset could do more as it wasn't trying to take the weight on my shoulders but support from below.
    Maybe when I'm in civilisation one time I should see if I can find somewhere where I can try one on.

    Thanks for the post. It's always really useful to read about someone's experience with it in an every day setting. Especially how it effects the anxiety.

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  61. "cosplaying" Im not sure that's a real word.

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    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay

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  62. After reading your article, I went to Lucy's and several other sites. I was interested in the "health benefits". After reading, I found that no one has any actual scientific references regarding these benefits. In fact, many offer NO references at all. Anyone found anything that has real scientific data to back these amazing claims up?
    ~Del

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  63. Try Pendragon Costumes. They are pricey, but high quality!

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  64. My friend Liz runs a studio for learning stuff like sewing, baking, and.... corset-making! http://handwerkstudioleiden.com/2013/08/06/corset-naailes-time/

    commenter: awesomerannemarie [at] gmail.com

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  65. DARN you!! I thought I had my corset addition under control but thanks to this post I've just gone and ordered 3!

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  66. Hi Jen, I know you probably won't see this anymore because this post was a long time ago, but I wanted to let you know that I recently bought a corset from Orchard Corset - I was after one in brown too - and managed to dye it pretty sucessfully. I used Procion dye in Chocolate brown, and hand washed it carefully - and it came out pretty good! Might be worth a try :) Also, thank you for this post, as it gave me the courage to try my first corset. I was anxious before I put it on, but once it was on I felt a lot better. They really are so comfy!

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  67. Hi Jen,

    I wanted to say thanks for this post because I ended up buying a corset from Orchard with confidence! I love it!

    Thank You!

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  68. Thanks for your very informative post, i bought mine from www.alt-noir.com as the quality of this company is quite good as compare to other online sellers however they are bit pricey at the same time.

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  69. I also have horrible periods and have found that Spanx Assets control tights (the ones that go all the way up the torso) also provide enough pressure to keep cramps at bay. They keep a pad right where it needs to be and have thicker bits where thighs rub so that's not a worry. They're also warm which is great since I get shivers during that time. The only downside is they can be a bit obnoxious to take on and off when it's time to use the restroom. They last forever too.

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